How’s this for irony: after all the added fanfare, all the exaggerated hoopla, the Miami Heat’s dream-of-a-season could now hinge on a variable as trite and basic as experience can be.
Dwyane Wade, by far the main contributor of just two Miami players to ever win an NBA chip— Big Three compadres LeBron James and Chris Bosh included— almost singlehandedly resituated the Heat’s fortunes Sunday night by netting seven of his team-high 29 points during an ultra-intense fourth quarter shootout with Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki to lead the Heat to an 88-86 victory and 2-1 series lead.
“I’ve been here before,” Wade, the sweat still pouring from his brow, said after all the dramatics. “I took it upon myself as a leader to lead my guys by example. It’s understanding the moment; you remember how tough it was to win here and what it takes to win games like these. My teammates saw. They could tell I wanted this game.”
His will was never more apparent than during a scintillating fourth-quarter that saw Wade add four rebounds, two assists and countless words of instruction— many of them not so tepidly— to his teammates.
“First and foremost, he pushed himself,” said Bosh, who made the game-winning shot from the right corner with just under forty seconds remaining. “We rode the wave for a while. He set the tone for us. When a guy like that is really getting on you and demanding more, that’s what team is all about.”
Added James: “As a competitor, you love when guys challenge you, especially someone of DWade’s caliber. “I respect that.”
And now the Mavs are left to find an answer for all Wade’s heroics, it, they watch he and his mates walk away with their second NBA title in the last six years at their expense. — Glenn Minnis